A climate summit in Durban has ended with agreement to bring down carbon emissions to save the planet.

A deadline of 2020 could yet prove a cop-out. But do we need to be so concerned about emissions? Is fear of global warming holding back much-needed development?

Emma Barnett interrogates George Monbiot, environmental activist, and Claire Fox, director of the British think-tank, the Institute of Ideas.

[Image courtesy of eyeglass view via ©©]


Image courtesy of eyeglass view via ©©

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  • I’m surprised the comments so far dont consider the worthwhile analysis of the starting point of the 2 speakers – are you to be bound by the limits of liberalism (Monbiot) and the inevitable logic and pseudo objective ‘factual’ stance he presents – or is the listner willing for a moment to consider all issues of pollution, climate change, even of the geographical boundaries of nation states as being political issues – making polution and global warming a Political issue – not a-political & objective problems that individuals, poor and rich states can really claim to have an equal stake in. From this starting point actual causes & meaningful objectives can be seen – note that the ‘green’ movemement has gone far out of fashion now & that more substantive approaches are needed than can be offerd by anxious do gooder liberals offering paternalism rather than real empowerment of the people to decide issues and act on problems for themselves.

  • @John Campbell

    Most interesting is the questions in the poll. The two relevant questions sent to the scientists were:

    1) Has the earth warmed, cooled or stayed the same temperature since the start of 19th century?

    2) Do you think that the activities of man has a significant effect on climate?

    If you answered “warmed” and “yes”, you were marked as non-skeptic. Interesting thing is that about 99% of skeptics who have studied the matter would be also counted as believers. The earth has indeed warmed up since the little ice age and surely deforestation, urbanization, farming, dams, soot etc. has significant effect on climate on both local and global level.

    Amazingly though only 81% of those polled answered “warmed” and “yes”. This wasn’t the result that they wanted, so they started selecting subgroups. The obvious choices like education level, number of publications, status, field etc. were not considered to be good basis for selection. Instead they came up with a subgroup of just 77 scientist – those that had published an article mostly falling in the field of climate change in the previous two years.

    Of those 77 scientists 75 had answered “warmed” and “yes”, qualifying them for the title of believer.

    You don’t do propagandist studies like this if your case is solid and certainly you don’t refer these kind of “studies” as a proof of your case if your case is solid.

    I wonder why they don’t use a simple question like: “Do you think that human CO2-emissions are causing catastrophic climate change? Yes or no.”

    Because they wouldn’t like the results.

  • @Luc Hansen

    No relation I hope?

    “There is nothing I would like more than for those facts to be overturned and to find out that the current warming is a mere blip and the inexorable march towards the next ice age is resumed. Sadly, science informs me otherwise.”

    Then you should be happy to learn you have misunderstood science, and that it shows that the last 13 years have shown a gradual decline in temperatures.

    “…(And by the way, there need never be another ice age as long as humans exist – we have the technology to banish ice ages forever!)”

    Umm…no, we have not. We have nothing like the capability to stop an ice age. We may have the capability for a small population to survive in an ice age, with extensive hydroponics and nuclear power, but we can’t stop one…

    “..So climate change deniers will meet the same fate as that of the geocentric universe promoters – extinction…”

    As so graphically illustrated here –
    Why is it that Warmists seem to welcome violence?

  • I am all in favour of looking at the evidence, as Mr Monbiot urges. The AGW theory makes a number of predictions (e.g. differential positive warming in the troposphere, and increasing temperatures as atmospheric CO2 increases.) None of these predictions have yet been reliably observed. Therefore, anyone who understands the scientific method must, for the time being and no matter how tentatively, accept the null hypothesis.

    Btw, Mr Monbiot’s assertion that 97% of scientists accept the AGW theory is, I believe, taken from a 2009 online survey of 10,257 earth scientists conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois. For some reason (possibly the responses of most of these scientists), the researchers chose to highlight the views of a subgroup of just 77 scientists, 75 of whom thought humans contributed to climate change. The ratio 75/77 produces the 97% figure.

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  • So Claire Fox believes that everyone – regardless of how rich and powerful they may be – should have no restrictions on their liberty to do anything they like, regardless of what the consequences may be to anyone else.

    Is this what passes for thought in the “Institute Of Ideas” ?


    The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), already under severe criticism for violating the requirements of academic peer review and relying on secondary sources, comes under attack again in a new report released August 29 and co-produced by three nonprofit research organizations titled Climate Change Reconsidered: 2011 Interim Report.

    According to the new report, “natural causes are very likely to be [the] dominant” cause of climate change that took place in the twentieth and at the start of the twenty-first centuries.
    “We are not saying anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHG) cannot produce some warming or have not in the past. Our conclusion is that the evidence shows they are not playing a substantial role.”

    The authors of the new report go on to say,“the net effect of continued warming and rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere is most likely to be beneficial to humans, plants, and wildlife.”

    Both conclusions contradict the findings of the widely cited reports of the IPCC.
    Key findings, as outlined in the interim report’s executive summary, include:

    “We find evidence that the models over-estimate the amount of warming that occurred during the twentieth century and fail to incorporate chemical and biological processes that may be as important as the physical processes employed in the models.”

    “More CO2 promotes more plant growth both on land and throughout the surface waters of the world’s oceans, and this vast assemblage of plant life has the ability to affect Earth’s climate in several ways, almost all of them tending to counteract the heating effects of CO2’s thermal radiative forcing.”

    “The latest research on paleoclimatology and recent temperatures [finds] new evidence that the Medieval Warm Period of approximately 1,000 years ago, when there was about 28 per cent less CO2 in the atmosphere than there is currently, was both global and warmer than today’s world.”

    “New research finds less melting of ice in the Arctic, Antarctic, and on mountaintops Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC), and no changes in precipitation patterns or river flows that could be attributed to rising CO2 levels.”

    “Amphibians, birds, butterflies, other insects, lizards, mammals, and even worms benefit from global warming and its myriad ecological effects.”

    “Rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations, by increasing crop yields, will play a major role in averting hunger and ecological destruction in the future.”

    You can download a free PDF copy of the full 2011 Interim Report at:

  • George Monbiot is a climate change zealot – he and his fellow zealots exaggerate everything and have got EVERY prediction they have made wrong. Point 1. There is no provable man made global warming. Mars has heated up for the same reasons that other planets have warmed up… a natural and normal heating… guaranteed to follow by a natural cooling. Monbiot is being paid to push out the climate change lie. He is a fraud.

  • Institute of Ideas ? What a laugh, she sounds like she hasn’t had an intelligent thought in her life. Her “freedom” is the freedom of those with wealth, power and influence to do as they please to the rest of us, her “philosophy” was exposed by one simple question. Well done, George.

  • George comes across as a dictator. He shot himself in the foot when he conceded that fossil fuels are much cheaper than green alternatives. CO2 is not a polutant and their is no link between CO2 emisions and global warming. He and his like would (are) bankrupting this country in the pursuit of junk science. Freedom must and will triumph over evil dictatorships.

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